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Dogs in Henderson shelter sick with unidentified illness

Updated February 1, 2024 - 2:18 am

An unspecified number of dogs at the Henderson animal shelter are showing signs of an unidentified respiratory illness that resembles the common cold in humans, a Henderson Police Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Asked in an email if the illness is the same mystery respiratory illness that has been making dogs sick across the country, the spokesperson said there was no further information to provide beyond what was in the email, which was sent out Tuesday.

“Our medical team has sent out lab work to identify the illness affecting our shelter dogs,” the statement said.

How the illness got into the shelter is unknown.

Several precautions have been put in place in an attempt to keep other dogs in the shelter from getting sick. Walks and yard play have been temporarily halted.

Animal adoptions are still open, but meet-and-greets involving dogs from potential adopting households have been stopped, the statement said.

“These precautions will be in place until the virus is identified and/or dogs are no longer symptomatic, to minimize the spread to other dogs,” the email said. “Currently, all dogs that are showing signs of illness are being treated.”

The illness is only affecting dogs, the email said.

The Associated Press reported in November that veterinary laboratories in several states have been investigating an unusual respiratory illness in dogs. Referred to as Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, the illness has been seen in several states including Nevada, according to the Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

The symptoms of that illness include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy. It has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia, with some of the pneumonia cases progressing swiftly and making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours. Some dogs have died, veterinarians have said.

In a November statement, Dr. Peter Mundschenk, the Nevada Department of Agriculture state veterinarian, said symptoms of the illness are similar to kennel cough and canine influenza.

“It’s important we rule out those possibilities to help determine if this canine respiratory illness may be at play,” the statement said.

During a Henderson City Council meeting in November, volunteers with Henderson Animal Care and Control asked the city for more funding and support, saying the conditions were bad for both the animals and the workers at the shelter, with one former volunteer saying he believed the facility was “chronically understaffed.”

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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